“North Pacific Grey whale found vacationing off coast Israel”

Possible this is the first time in 200 to 300 years that a Grey whale has been seen off the coast of Israel. It is an adult mammal a mature whale measuring some 12 meters (39 feet) and weighing around 20 tons.

grey whale

The Grey whale was first sighted off Herzliya in central Israel on Saturday May 8. It is possible that it traveled thousands of miles from the north Pacific through the melting ice of the Bering Straights looking for food.  It appears to be underweight, and might have gone astray.

“It’s an unbelievable event which has been described as one of the most important whale sightings ever,” said Dr Aviad Scheinin, chairman of the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center which identified the creature.

Once the Grey whales were plentiful in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, but the population of the Atlantic Grey whales became extinct in the 17th or 18th centuries. Until this sighting the only remaining colonies live in the western and eastern sectors of the north Pacific.

The Pacific Greys annually travel 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometres) round trip from the northeastern Pacific  rim in  October to warmer waters around the Gulf of California and back.
So it is possible that this whale when autumn came,  began travelling south, keeping the land mass on the left and heading for the Californian Gulf with the aim of “turning left” into the bay.

But instead, it reached Gibraltar and turned left into the Mediterranean and ended up off the shores of Israel, Scheinin said.

“The question now is: are we going to see the re-colonisation of the Atlantic?” he said. “This is very important ecologically because of the change of habitat. It emphasises the climate change that we are going through.”

So far, the whale seems to be happy enough in the waters off the shores of Israel, he said.

“It is pretty thin, which indicates the trip was quite harsh, but we think it can survive here,” he said. “Grey whales are very generalist in what they feed on.”

Is this the first of many Greys to relocate?   Keeping waterways clean can foster the re-habitation of many species.

Resources

Excerpts and Image courtesy of  TerraDaily.com and AFP

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